With stints at Le Cirque, Nobu, and Joël Robuchon under his belt, Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski now delights San Diegans with his progressive American cuisine (specifically French-Asian fusion with a SoCal twist) at Kettner Exchange in San Diego, California. In addition to twice cooking at the James Beard House in New York, Chef Brian has also competed in Iron Chef America and was awarded Rising Chef in the Los Angeles area.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a professional culinary career?
My brothers. My brother was a Sous Chef at The Hollow Brooke in upstate New York and needed a dishwasher on Mother’s Day. I went in, loved washing dishes and was hooked immediately.
For you, what is the most important part about being a chef?
Responsibility. Responsibility to the business. The world. To our farmers. Our fisheries. Our butchers. Responsibility to our guests.
From a post-graduation stint at Le Cirque to Nobu in Aspen to Joël Robuchon’s Yellowtail at The Bellagio, you’ve racked up time at some pretty renowned restaurants. What were some of your career highlights from each place?
Opening up Kettner Exchange…being in San Diego and having national recognition is big for me. All the way back to Le Cirque they were awarded 4 stars from The New York Times during my employment, that was rewarding for the entire team. Being with my brother and Akira at Iron Chef was also huge for me during my time at Yellowtail in Vegas.
At Kettner Exchange you’re known for Asian flavors. What’s one dish on the menu you are particularly excited about right now and why?
Our Olive Oil Braised Spanish Octopus. It is my Chef De Cuisine Nick Deveries’ dish. To see his growth over the years and his dishes start to appear on Kettner’s menu is very rewarding.
What are some local famers & purveyors that you enjoy working with?
We do a lot with Suzie’s Farms. Barbie from Lucky Dog Ranch is amazing to work with. Santa Monica’s Farmers Market sources almost 95% of the menu at Kettner Exchange.
How would you describe your process when it comes to designing a new dish or menu?
It can start with anything. A plate. A variation. Something Barbie from Lucky Dog Farms brings to me. Then I pass it on the Nick and see what he thinks. We see if the cooks can execute. We ask ourselves, “Can the team get behind it?”…and it goes from there.
I love New York. I loved bringing my team to New York. I loved exposing them to this process. I loved how we all brought what we do in San Diego and at Kettner Exchange to New York City, and seeing this team rise to that challenge and perform was unbelievable. It’s a huge honor and to share that with them is something that will always be special to me.
What or who are some of your biggest culinary influences?
My brothers by far are my biggest influences. When shit hits the fan or when I want to celebrate I call them first.
If you could have any chef prepare a meal for you, who would it be?
What (if any) podcasts, magazines or chef TV shows do you enjoy keeping up with?
Nothing. I do not have cable. I follow chefs on Instagram. I do like Dan Barber from Stone Hill Farms. He has some great TED Talks on sustainability.
Craziest story from the walk-in?
I was told once that if I need to swear, yell or physically assault an employee take it to the walk-in… everything is safe in the walk in. I never did it but I will always remember that.
Where might we find you grabbing an after work beer?
I do not go out on a school day. But on Sundays you will find me at La Puerta with a can of Tecate.
Any future projects or upcoming events you’d like to share with us?
I am honored to be doing our second Outstanding in the Field event this October… twice in 2016 (our first was in June of this year)… talk about something I am proud of! We are also set to open The Grass Skirt and Good Time Poke in Pacific Beach that month, but are always looking at new spaces so there’s lots more to come.